Happy December friends! I have been busy working on my Christmas theme this year, but I am not quite ready to share yet. So I welcome you into my house and kitchen.
My little shoe room is a simple collection of shells, drift woods and other goodies I find when I hang out on the beach (or dropped in my yard by a bird. These brown bottles I have been saving for a Christmas project (share soon). Instead of a wreath I took this tote (that looks like wool but is recycled plastic bottles) and filled it with greens and holly from my property. Add some large pompoms from a past Christmas theme, and wha-la, simple!
Cream cheese mash potatoesStore bought gravy (yes I buy my gravy ;-O )
Green beans with Dijon-made by my mom
Green salad with fresh persimmon, pomegranate, toasted pecan salad with a pomegranate vinaigrette
Dairy free pumpkin piePumpkin Cheesecake-made by Chloe
Grain-free Chocolate chip cookies-made by my mom
Also I was requested the recipe for the Spiced Port Cranberry sauce. I will be honest and say I just wing it So feel free to not follow the amount for spices too much. I cook, taste, adjust and simmer 5 minutes longer, It always seems to turn out and is a yearly favorite!
Spiced Port Cranberry Sauce
makes a generous 2 cups
3 cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup port (I used sweet ruby port, but you can use dry too. You will just want to add more sugar. Also you can use red wine too, it is good)
⅓ cup sugar/sweetener (I used coconut sugar) If you like your sauce sweet, you will want more sugar. I like mine just barely sweet.
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of candied ginger (or a slice of fresh ginger)
1 vanilla bean
Wrap the spices below in a piece of cheese cloth tied with some string. I makes it easier later to pull out the spices
1 whole anise
some whole cloves and allspice
Put all ingredients in pan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. I mash the cranberries down a bit, but you do not have too. Taste if it is not sweet enough add more sugar, also if the sauce seems too dry add some more port and simmer 5 more minutes. Pull off heat, cover and let cool. Pull out spices. Put sauce in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Things I love. What I really love about this time of year? Is just that, this time of year, Autumn. Between now and Christmas is what I love the most. The nip in the air, the deep gold light, smoky smells from the wood stove, the pots of hot tea and snuggling. It does not get much better than that!
Paper Table Cloth, love the look and simplicity of this for the holidays!
DIY Lip Plumper, so easy and just a swipe in the center of my bottom lip works well!
Sharpie Mug, I am thinking of making this mug for Christmas gifts! Image 2 from
Cauliflower Popcorn, I am addicted to this stuff. It feel satisfy and fill that salty, snack need. The trick is to keep the pieces really small, do not over crowed the baking pan and roast the heck out of them! Be generous with your spices!
Bye Bye Red, let me start by saying I am not paid to say how much I LOVE this product. I am not paid to say that about anything I talk about on my blog. So having said that, I have to tell you how much I love Bye, Bye Red. Hitting 50 my skin is really starting to change and my old makeup routine was not working for me. I had heard so much about IT Cosmetics, especially for those who are over the age of 40. I decided to get a free make-over (I know Ulta and Sephora will let you try make-up for free) and was just shock how much I love their foundation, but what I mostly loved was this product. I do not have much rosacea, just some red on my nose, cheeks, some broken capillaries. Basically what you would expect with someone my age. I do not want to look like I am wearing make up. I want to look like I have healthy, dewy skin. And boy did this product do that. A small dot, blended with a small brush and my skin instantly evened out. Plus it last all day, it lasts through my 1 1/2 hour work-out (I get really red cheeks when I work out), and you use such a tiny amount. I am loving it, and it is rare for me to say make-up with worth the high price but in this case I think it is. If your interested, go in and try some. See for yourself.
I am always trying low-carb version of dishes and I will be honest, my family doesn't always like them. Which is fine, as long as they are tasty to me, I am happy. But this replacement I made for potato salad was a big hit for my family. I have been making it all summer long. Really it is the same version of potato salad I always make, with capers and lots of lemon zest. I just replaced the potatoes with raw, riced cauliflower but the dish did not have the same creaminess like regular potato salad. I could have used cooked cauliflower, but we like it raw better. So instead I upped the hard boiled eggs. Between tiny pieces of cauliflower and lots of hard boiled eggs, this dish still has that creaminess that one loves in potato salad!
PS. this is very typical of a low-carb dinner for me. My family all had Moroccan Burgers. I had my burgers without buns with fresh avocado and a small piece for French cheese. And of course no potato-potato salad ;-) works for me.
No Potato-Potato Salad
makes one large bowl
4 cups of raw cauliflower, riced (finely chopped)
3 green onions, white and green part, thinly sliced (chives work well too)
1/4 cup (or more) capers
6 hard boiled eggs, cubed
zest of two lemons, organic and cleaned
Mix all ingredients and dressing together. Toss, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TBL juice from capers
salt and pepper to taste'
Whisk all in a bowl, taste and adjust to your liking.
My sister and I always have a tea for my mother on Mother's day. I wanted to make her something extra special and this ice cream cake was a big hit. Because my mother's is diabetic, and does not do dairy (except for butter), I made the cake grain free. The base of the cake is my lavender infused brownies, where you infuse the butter with herbs and then use that butter to make a chocolatey brownies (no cocoa powder here, all bittersweet chocolate :-) . Topped with strawberry ice cream and then lavender ganache. This cake was a BIG hit!! A little time consuming, but so worth the work!
1 pint (or so) strawberry ice cream, I made vegan ice cream but feel free to use what ice cream you love.
Dark Chocolate Lavender ganache
Assemble cake; let brownie base cool for 30 minutes after baking. Cover brownie with ice cream (if ice cream is frozen hard let it sit on your counter, or pop in microwave a minute, to soften a bit). Set cake in freezer and make ganache. Pour ganache over the ice cream. Cover pan with heavy foil and set cake in freezer. Freeze until ice cream is solid. Serve and enjoy!
Vegan Strawberries Ice Cream
1 1/2 cup cold coconut cream
1 cup cold coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar, I used coconut sugar
1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries
pinch of sea salt
Blend all ingredients with a blender stick or in a blender until smooth. Run in ice cream maker for 30 minutes and store in freezer until ready to assemble cake. I make the ice cream when I pull out the cake, so the ice cream is ready when the brownie is cool and the ice cream is still soft enough to spread over the brownie.
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate 1/2 cup cream 1 TBL lavender buds ** see note
Heat the cream, chocolate and lavender over low heat until chocolate is melted. Do NOT let the mixture boil. Set chocolate aside for 15 minutes, then strain out lavender buds through a sieve. Discard lavender.
* Bake your brownie in a spring form pan. It makes it easier to serve the cake. Normally I under cook my brownies but for this recipe make sure the brownies are fully cooked
** You can also use food grade lavender oil, I use Young Living, instead of lavender buds. 3-5 drops depending on your taste.
"Wren sets another bushel of tomatoes under the table and sets to making a salad. On the outdoor worktable Wren has arranged small crocks filled with herbs; chives, basil and hyssop. Next to the crocks is a large shallow pan filled with lettuce leaves floating in cold water. From the pantry she procures some fresh ripe cream brie Luc has sent and carefully crushes a handful of herbs with a clove of garlic in a mortar. Taking the heady paste, she whisks it with some olive oil and strawberry infused balsamic vinegar. Last summer Wren had macerated large vats of balsamic with strawberries from the garden. After a day, she strained them out and set the vinegar in a dark corner of the pantry. This is her favorite vinegar. The strawberries bring out the fruity intensity of the balsamic.
Carefully drying the Red Speckled lettuce, Wren arranges it on an opalescent platter. Adding fresh figs and slices of brie to the dressed leaves completes the salad. She admires it for a moment the intense purple against the cool white platter.
After picking 20 pounds of strawberries, I have been making vinegar for the winter!!
Strawberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar
makes one bottle, plus one small jar
1 bottle of balsamic vinegar
frozen strawberries, see notes about amounts*
In a jar or bottle bigger than your bottle of vinegar, pour our vinegar inn it. Add enough strawberries, still frozen, to come halfway up the vinegar. Cover jar and set aside, out of the sun. Let the vinegar sit no more than 2 days. When it smells like strawberries, strain out the berries. Pour you vinegar back in the bottle. You will have extra, which can go in a smaller bottle. A gift for friend, maybe? Store in vinegar a cool, dark cupboard. It will keep for one year. The berries are good in salads. They will keep in refrigerator 2-3 days.
You can make a small batch or a large batch. Just eyeball it, and use about half the amount of vinegar for the strawberries. For example, one cup of vinegar, you would use ½ cup for frozen strawberries but it does not need to be exact.
It is important to use frozen fruit, because they give out more juice.
Twice a month I have lunch with a girlfriend. She is an amazing cook, so we always eat well. This is a salad I made for one of those get together and was requested to write a recipe for it. I like this salad because it s liking having 2 salads in one. It is actually quite hardy and would make a great meat-free, dairy-free, carb friendly dinner. It looks pretty too, which is nice when you have guests!
In a small sauce pan add the first 6 ingredients. Heat ingredients together on low setting on your stove until melted and whisked together. You do NOT want to cook this, you are just warm it up enough to melt ingredients together. Take pan off heat and let cool 10 minutes, then add lime juice and turmeric. Whisk, together, taste and adjust flavors to your liking.
**If the dressing is too thick you can whisk water in. Start with a TBL at a time, the dressing with separate at first but keep whisking and the dressing with come together.
½ cup mild flavored oil, I like avocado oil
3 drops toasted sesame oil
2 TBL (or more to suite your taste) rice wine vinegar
1 TBL fish sauce
1 finely minced garlic clove
fresh ground pepper
soy sauce or salt as needed
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Tastes and adjust to your liking.
2 cups or so of greens (I used spinach)
a small bit of chopped fresh cilantro
1. Toss greens in Asian vinaigrette. Line your platter with dressed greens.
3 cups or so chopped raw veggies. I used the following veggies, but use what you like: radishes, snow peas, bell pepper, cucumber, cabbage, green onion, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
roasted salted peanuts
2. Chop veggies in bite-size pieces.
3. Mix veggies in a bowl with peanut-butter dressing.
4. Top greens in vinaigrette with dressed chopped veggies.
5. Garnish salad with avocado, roasted salted peanuts, lime wedges and more fresh cilantro if you like!
note, if you have leftover dressing, it will keep in fridge for one week.
Thank you for all the congratulations on my 10 year bloggiversary. I wish I could send each of you a gift. Winner of Wishes Are Like ... Dawn at The Feathered Nest and the winner of the nest ring is Barbra Weaver xox
I was requested to do a Things I Love Post, so here you go. What are you loving lately?
Wow, it is Storybook Woods 10 year bloggiversary. 10 years! I do not know what to say. It seems like yesterday when I started this blog. I had NO idea what blessings, opportunities and friends blogging would bring into my life. Of course 10 years ago blogging was just in its infancy and a whole another world. Nobody was famous. Nobody had books, TV shows, etc. Just a simple wanting to share and connect with others.
It has been interesting to watch the medium grow over the years. Like all things, it must grow and change. Some good, some not but I am proud to be apart of the blogging community. My first post in April 2006,
"Hello friends, welcome,
I am very excited about my new little home. I am hoping to share lots of exciting ideas that I make and find. I truly hope you will find Storybook Woods a place of inspiration. A place to help you play. So get a cup of tea and something to eat and enjoy, Clarice
"What we play is life."Louis Armstrong
I still feel this way. I truly hope I inspire you, but I have to say, I get much more inspiration from all of you than I ever give. Thank you for that! I did not realize when I started blogging, how much it would add to my life. I never picture being featured in magazines, let alone editing one. I did not imaging myself writing cookbooks, and definitely did not know I had it in me to write novels.
Blogging has stretched me and pushed my boundaries in a way I never pictured. It is also a beautiful reflection of my life for the past 10 years. The girls are now 20, 25. I no longer homeschool and it was such a huge part of my life. I will be honest, I am still searching for what this new season of my life will be. Taking care of my home is still a joy for me, but I am not sure what I want to do next. Which may very well just be, keep doing what I already do. It is interesting to be a full time homemaker when you do not have children anymore. I am still finding my voice and not sure what I now want to say on Storybook Woods.
The biggest thing I am grateful for these past 10 years of blogging is the friends I have made. True, wonderful friends who have been there for me in times of need. You readers bring such joy into my life. Because of that I would like to do a give-away. One reader will win signed copy of Wishes Are Like..., and another winner will win this ring. I bought this nest ring 5 years ago when I started Wishes. I did not know how the book would end (those you who have read the book, will know what I am talking about. You will also know the significance of the 3 eggs). I bought 2 rings, one for me and one for a winner of a give-away. I did not know at the time that give-away would also be my 10 year bloggiversary. Funny how life works. I like to keep give-away's simple (like they were 10 years ago :-). Just leave me a comment. If you have a preference of ring or book, let me know. Just say hi, tell me how long to have been reading SW, and maybe what your favorite recipe or idea is. That would make my day and I will pick the winners in 2 weeks.
I am not sure what the next 10 years will bring? Both in my life and on the blog, but I look forward to seeing it. Thank you so much for all your support and friendship over the years. I continue to hope Storybook Woods brings something to your life to make it better, to inspire you and encourage you to dream, to make wishes. Remember to look for the everyday joys if life xox
I make ice cream all the time! It is so easy, cheap and carb friendly. I have a basic 2 cup cream-1 cup whole milk ratio and then play with the flavors all the time. My latest hit is Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream. Really, it is an easy twist of vanilla ice cream. Smoked salt, apple wood smoked salt to be exact, is my favorite spice to use lately I love it in everything, but what I really love in is desserts. I find the smokiness really adds something to the sweetness. It is such a tiny change, but it makes a huge difference in the flavor. A tip, I find smoked salts lose their smokiness quickly. So if you are lucky enough to have a store with a bulk section (like I do) buy it in small quantities. Freshness is important!
Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream
makes 3 cups ice cream
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 cup cold whole milk
¾ sugar (I am pre-diabetic, so I use ½ cup coconut sugar and 3 drops of stevia)
1-2 (or more) tsp. smoked salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whisk all ingredients together and taste. If you think it needs a more salty flavor add a bit more. Run in ice cream maker for 30 minutes. Until firm. Transfer ice cream to a container and store in freezer until you are ready to serve. We like ours soft, so we eat it right away. Garnish ice cream with a sprinkling of salt, caramel sauce is good too. I like to serve this with a small glass of sherry.
Well it has been 2 years since I found out I was pre-diabetic and made a drastic lifestyle change. I am pleased to say I am still staying strong. I am completely comfortable eating a very low carb/paleo diet now. My cravings do not get the best of me (most days ;-). I have treat days and seem to make it all work. I was re-reading my 1 year post where I talked about gaining confidence and I have to say I feel even more confident now. Over Christmas I gained 5 pounds (not a big deal) but I was able to drop that weight off in 3 weeks. I have NEVER been able to do this before, unless I did something extreme to my body. It just shows me I am doing what my body needs.
What thrills me more than anything, and is my biggest goal, I am maintaining what I have lost. If I do NOTHING else, I want to at least maintain. I have yo-yo'ed all my life from 96-240 something pounds. If I can keep this 40/50 pound weight loss off, then I have succeeded. So after 2 years, I would say I am succeeding.
This brings me to what I wanted to share in this post. I have talked a lot about what I eat, how I move, what food owns me. But what I really want to talk about today, and what I feel like nobody talks about, is being positive. When it comes to lifestyle changes, diet, exerciser, goals, I see so many negative statements. Food is called bad, a goal is not meant unless it is done perfectly and no matter how much weight someone losses they are not happy unless they have hit their target weight. I wonder if this negative talk, unrealistic goals and self-loathing is undermining our health in the long run. I mean sure we can do something extreme, trick our body for a while and get some weight off. But in the long run are we really making true changes that will last?
I was determined this time around to set small goals, go slow with my weight loss (I did not even weigh myself the first year), and be positive about food. I never say I cheat, I say I have a treat or gave into cravings (which does happen. I acknowledge it and move on). I never look at a day as a failure. Even if I ate something I shouldn't or didn't exerciser or gained weight, I know what went wrong that day, I do not need to point it out to myself. Instead I point out what I did right. I had a great breakfast or I drank lots of water or I did my deep breathing. I keep my focus positive, I keep my talk about myself positive!
For every wrong thing we do, there is something we did right too. I am glad I set small goals for myself and hold them very lightly. I think this leads to feeling more positive about myself, which I think leads to a healthier body and weight loss. Becoming healthy is lifelong trek. It really never stops, and it is not like we hit some certain line in the sand and then we are done. Everyday is about choices, learning and getting a bit healthier than yesterday. I do not think it is some final destination we arrive at, but more of a journey we are on. So I wanted to encourage everyone to love yourself, be positive about food and look at what you did right today. Be proud of yourself because nobody is more invested in you, than you xox
Well this is the last Hygee post. I had fun with this and it did inspire me to enjoy my days more, even though they are cold and grey. I was reminded to stop, enjoy, be grateful and embrace the life God has given me. On that note I am going to leave you with this last little thing, breathe.
It is such a small, simple thing we do without even thinking about it, but it is something that we also do not use enough. I mean we all breath, but slow, deep, thoughtful breathing can change your health, your mindset, your life. I have been learning about this 4-7-8 breathing technique. Here is a good video by Dr. Andrew Weil. Take the time to stop, appreciate, deep breathe and be thankful xox
In trying to detox from the holidays I have been drinking lotsss of vinegar water, but also this turmeric tea. Although there is no actual tea, it is more of a hot beverage I keep in mason jar in my fridge. Ready to warm up as I want. I find this quite refreshing. I have to say since Christmas my metabolism has kicked back up. I lost the weight I gained over Christmas plus two more pounds. I really think raw apple cider vinegar is something we should all drink. Plus fresh citrus, turmeric and ginger are also so healing to the body.
Citrus Thyme Turmeric Tea
makes 1 pint mason jar
1 slice of lemon, I have been using meyer lemons lately
1 slice of orange (if fruit is small use 2 slices)
2 slices of fresh ginger
5 slices of fresh turmeric
some fresh thyme, or fresh herb to your liking
1/2-1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar
Add all ingredients, except the vinegar, to a wide mouth pint mason jar. Fill jar with boiling water and cover jar with lid. Let the tea sit on your counter for a good 20-30 minutes depending how strong you like it. Strain out ingredients and store tea in your fridge. Heat a cup, sweeten if you like and stir in vinegar. Amount of vinegar depends on the size of cup and your tastes. The tea will keep in your fridge 1 week.
Is your hair drying out from all the cold weather like me? Give your hair a warm honey coconut oil treatment. I use this twice a month and it makes my long hair soft and shiny.
2 TBL raw coconut oil
2 TBL honey
Put on a junky shirt. Warm the two together and mix (It might separate a bit but do not worry it will still work). Apply to hair with your fingers, especially the ends. Put your hair up with a band or large hair clip. The longer you can keep it on the better. I leave it on all day, but leave on at least 2 hours. Then wash your hair.
There is nothing like a hot bowl of porridge in a cold winters day, but with my grain-free diet I could not eat oatmeal (too carby for my body). My friend shared me her version of grain-free and that got my mind going. It took me a while to get a recipe down, but I love it and it is easy. Please check out my notes about the recipe. If you eat oatmeal check out how I make it for my family. Or try out my Lavender Pear Oatmeal !
Grain-Free Porridge makes 1 serving
⅛ cup flax meal (or finely ground flax seeds) ⅛ cup almond flour 1 TBL chia seeds 1 TBL sesame seeds 1 TBL hemp seeds 2 tsp coconut sugar, or more if you want it sweeter small pinch of sea salt
stir all together in a small bowl.
Pour ¼ cup + 1 TBL boiling hot water over porridge. Let porridge sit 5 minutes uncovered. I then reheat the porridge in the microwave for 1 minute on high. I enjoy my porridge topped with raw cream, unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted pecans, walnuts and a little fruit (like dried sour cherries).
This porridge is quite thick and I think it out with the cream. But if you like your porridge thinner, just add a bit more boiling water when you soak the porridge.
I wanted a smooth porridge with chunky bits of nuts. But if you want it all smooth, add your nuts to the porridge before you add the hot water.
You can play around with the nut flour and seeds BUT use at least flax or chia, this is what helps bind the porridge together.
You can make this dairy free. Also feel free to add spices like cinnamon if you like.
Happy New Year! I love the month of January. I think it's because it is a slow month. Days of puttering at home, reading, wood stove, cozy kind of days. I was reading about hygge. Which means
I LOVE this idea and want to do this in my own life. In keeping with the hygge concept, I am going to post one idea everyday this month. I hope these will inspire you to find hygge in your own life. Here is a great post about this idea. See you tomarrow xox
My years list of favorite posts. As you can see there are two months where I did not even post anything. Last year was about finish my novel and trying to stay on track with my lifestyle changes. I am proud to say I accomplished both goals. What is your favorite memory of 2015?
Well the last red & white Christmas post. Last year we had a whiskey bar so this year we did a cocoa bar.
Made our own cocoa mix, organic milk and sugar, good cocoa powder. Simple, easy and healthy.
This was a fun, easy, and honestly frugal theme this year. Which is good, money is tight. Spent about $20 on paper and craft supplies, and then used what we had. It is fun to use only what you have because you do not know what you will end up with in the end. Plus you stretch your creative brain!
I had some left-over air dry clay and wanted to use it up. I came up with the idea of using the quote I had used on the chalkboard in the pantry, O` Come Let Us Adore Him. Rolled out the clay, used a crown cookie cutter and hand stamped the clay. I am very happy how these turned out. Made one for all my friends and family.
The other project I picked for our Red & White theme was this straw wreath. I was inspired by my friend Jennifer at Tatertots and Jello. I just cut a circle from a pizza box I had and glued the straws on. It took almost 100 paper straws. I found the best deal on ebay. Pretty simple, but did take a bit of playing with. Add a bow and I am very happy how it turned out.
Also I have had several people ask me about a picture in the last post. It is a cross stitch my mother made. Actually she has made all three of us one. She is extremely talented. Here is a close up of them!!